Alpacas referred to as Peruvian, Chilean or Bolivian were imported from that country or have descended from such animals. There have been specific breeding programs in Peru and Bolivia that emphasised white fleece throughout the 1950's in order for it to be dyed more easily. Many alpacas from each of these countries exhibit specific characteristics in their phenotype. There are examples of excellent and poorer quality alpacas from all three countries, so it is important to judge each alpaca on its own merits. However You may find that you prefer the look(phenotype) of a Bolivian over a Peruvian or vice versa.
There are no particular diseases that alpacas suffer from; in fact, they are extremely disease-resistant compared to other livestock. They require annual vaccinations (e.g., against Clostridium, Tetanus) and periodic deworming. They are susceptible to many of the common livestock diseases, although in some cases are not highly contagious. Good hygiene and proper nutrition are also important to maintain healthy alpacas..
This figure will depend upon how much you can do yourself. Basic care includes vaccination and periodic deworming which can be performed by the owner. Some breeders routinely give vitamin shots to their newborn alpacas. Sometimes blood needs to be drawn for testing and this is usually done by a vet. As only a pin prick of blood or pulled hair samples are now needed for registration purposes, most breeders are able to do this themselves. Their toenails need to be trimmed every few weeks or months. This is easily done by the owner.
An Alpaca will eat 1 – 2% of its body weight in one day. 80% of this total amount needs to be forage; i.e hay or grass of between 10-15% protein. This averages out to around two pounds of forage per day. The remaining 20% should be a mineral and feed supplement high in nutrients to replace in the body what the forage is not supplying or what a cria is potentially taking through the milk. Always have your pasture and hay analysed for content. Stressful conditions i.e.: extreme cold/heat, weaning, moving or late lactation and gestation call for an increase and adaptation of these amounts.
There are mineral mixes and feeds designed specifically for alpacas and llamas in either loose or pellet form, Mineral blocks are not recommended as Alpacas can not lick them as readily as they can eat a lose mix. Mineral and feed supplements are required year-round for producing Hembras (females) and growing herd members. They will also browse shrubs and trees if available. Supplemental hay may be advisable in summer in poorer quality pastures.
A good rule of thumb – early cut hay (if its alfalfa the flower is still in the boot) of thin stock with no rain 1 – 1000 lb round bale per alpaca per year should suffice, plus 1 cup/alpaca /day of mineral pellets in the winter. This is only in perfect conditions to give an idea.
Alpacas do not necessarily need to be put in a stall overnight, however shelter should be available at all times to protect from wind and precipitation, and to provide shade on hot days. Three-sided shelters that are orientated against the prevailing winds are usually adequate as long as the alpacas were sheared in the spring so that they have enough regrowth by winter to keep them warm. Stalling overnight would be recommended in an area where cougars are a threat.
No, however, registration is highly recommended because it records the pedigree of the alpaca. Pedigree information is very important in the industry because it traces bloodlines. Registration in Canada is through the Canadian Llama and Alpaca Association (CLAA). You do not have to be a member of CLAA to register alpacas, however the fees are less expensive if you are a member.
At present, you can only register an alpaca with the AOA when both of its parents are registered with the ARI. Some alpacas in Canada are ARI – registered, and therefore there would be no problem maintaining this registration.
CLAA has produced certain standards where it is possible to purchase other alpacas from approved registries provided guidelines are followed to become Canadian Alpacas. Please contact the CLAA website/office for more information.
The average total fleece weight per animal is about 5-10 lbs for an adult shorn once per year. However, the prime fleece comes from the "blanket" area (across the back, upper sides and rump). The average weight of the blanket is about 3-4 lbs. All of these weights are based on relatively clean fleeces with little debris and dust.
Fleece weight is not a good measure to use alone when judging an alpaca's fleece as fleece weight will increase with coarseness and density, so a fine, dense fleece may weigh the same as a loose, coarse fleece.
Fleece value will depend on its quality (fineness, soft feel to the touch, crimp, etc.). Price also depends on whether it is sold in the artisan or cottage industry market versus the commercial market. Higher prices are obtained from the artisan or cottage industry, however this market is limited. The price obtained for raw fibre varies with the quality from about $10-$45 per pound.
For a free Canadian Alpaca Guide providing information about alpaca care, fibre production and more, including a national breeder directory, please complete the request form.